Myth: RPA for Developers Only? A Non-developer’s Attempt to Build a Bot

The week before I joined Automation Anywhere, the company launched Enterprise A2019, the world's first 100% cloud-based Robotic Process Automation (RPA) platform (read software bots). The launch included something surprising: a live demonstration showing that someone could build a bot and run it before an Uber could be ordered and arrive. Pretty slick!

But I assumed you still needed to be a programmer or at least have a developer's mindset to use the program. I was wrong.

An invitation to build a bot

Fast-forward a whole week to day two of my new job. I attended an all-hands meeting where company executives talked about the success of the Enterprise A2019 launch and then invited the entire company to start using the platform to create their own bots. My first reaction was, "Yeah, OK, maybe for the developers."

I work in marketing. And although I’m no technical slouch, I’m no programmer either. I start to get hives when someone asks me to do something rudimentary in Excel. There are whole cottage industries geared toward marketers like me who have "spreadsheetaphobia."

So, when I awoke the next morning and opened my invitation to Enterprise A2019 Community Edition, I didn’t expect much. At best, I figured I’d see the interface that back-end wizards would use to create powerful tools. And, at worst, I thought I’d try it and then go find calamine lotion for the itching.


Only 3 steps to success

I logged in to Community Edition and did three simple things to prepare my computer and connect to Enterprise A2019 — and it was easier than ordering a large pizza online.

On the right side of the screen appeared "Start" and below it "Stop." The program was waiting for me to fill in the middle with the things I wanted to do — except I had no idea what I wanted to do. But I found inspiration right there on my monitor.

On the left of the screen were a plethora of starting points. I scanned them for something relevant to me as a marketer. I clicked on PDF and then chose Extract text from the available options and dragged and dropped it in between "Start" and "Stop" (see Figure 1).

Automation Anywhere Community Edition makes it easy to build a software bot using drag-and-drop actions.

Figure 1. Automation Anywhere Community Edition makes it easy to build a software bot using drag-and-drop actions.

I figured this is where my journey would end because configuring the bot was going to be too difficult. But I clicked the icon, chose the PDF file I wanted to extract data from, indicated where I wanted a new text file saved, clarified what I wanted it called, and hit Save.

Then I hit Run, and the magic started — with three realizations:

  • I might have created my first software bot.
  • It looked like it was going to work.
  • If it did work, the result was going to save me a lot of time and aggravation.

The screen read "100% successful."

A bot-building believer

And just like that, I became a bot creator. With my new "bot buddy" (I named it "Scrapy"), I’m on my way to a more optimized workflow. All it took was 10 minutes and overcoming my irrational fear that I wasn't smart enough to create and leverage a software bot.

I used Scrapy six more times and then started exploring more advanced things I could do with it.

Three weeks before this experience, you couldn't have convinced me that bots would be the knowledge worker's new productivity tool. I would have told you RPA was only for big enterprises with enormous amounts of data and back-end processes. And I would have been wrong.

Now I know enterprises and individuals alike can leverage RPA to go be great.

See for yourself how easy it is to build an RPA bot.